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American History

Explore the development of the United States with this collection of articles about American history. Topics in this section include the American Revolution, the gold rush and the expansion of the West.

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How the White House Rose Garden Became the Most Famous Garden in the World

The White House Rose Garden has been the scene of many history-making events, but the story of its creation is a fascinating tale in itself.

Harpers Ferry Has a Complex and Dizzying History

Harpers Ferry is known as the spot where John Brown launched his disastrous slave rebellion. But why was this town also a transportation and ammunitions powerhouse?

What Fueled the Famous Feud Between the Hatfields and McCoys?

The Hatfield and McCoy family names are recognized for one thing: fighting for decades between them. But what were they so angry about and why so many years of feuding?

The 'Petticoat Rulers' Ran a Wyoming Frontier Town in the 1920s

In 1920, a group of women established an all-female government in the town of Jackson, Wyoming. And it ran like a top.

The Racial History of the Term 'Grandfathered In'

While it often evokes the image of a gray-haired, old gentleman let off the hook because of his age, the intention behind the term "grandfathered" came from origins far more sinister.

19th-century Time Capsule Discovered Beneath Confederate Memorial

Conservators from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources opened the 126-year-old time capsule July 2, 2020 and are preserving what they can.

Black Men Were Cowboys Before It Was Cool

In the early 18th century, Black cowboys were the only cowboys in the West. That's because white men didn't want to do the work. So why hasn't their story been told?

Why Is There a Crack in the Liberty Bell?

Older than the founding of the United States, the Liberty Bell has endured as a symbol of freedom for many Americans, even though that was not its original role. It wasn't even called the Liberty Bell for some 80 years after its creation.

A Monumental Tribute to Crazy Horse Has Been Taking Shape for Decades

More than 70 years ago, Oglala Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear dedicated Thunderhead Mountain as the site of the Crazy Horse Memorial. The monument to honor North American Indians is still under construction.

How Buffalo Bill Became a Living, Breathing Personification of the American West

William "Buffalo Bill" Cody was an American soldier, bison hunter and frontiersman. But he's perhaps best-known for being a showman and running Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.

Why Isn't Washington, D.C. Already a State?

The residents of the U.S. capital pay taxes, serve in the armed forces and contribute to the economic strength of the U.S. but have no voting representation in Congress.

The Wild Wild West Quiz

The Wild West is the stuff of legends, lore and awesome John Wayne movies. How much do you know about the days of saloons and standoffs?

Slavery Under Another Name: What Were the Black Codes?

The Emancipation Proclamation may have signified the formal end of slavery. But almost immediately afterward, Southern states enacted Black Codes that effectively re-enslaved thousands of newly freed Black people.

What Was the Tulsa Race Massacre and Why Does it Still Haunt the City?

The Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, aka "Black Wall Street" was one of the wealthiest African American neighborhoods in the U.S. But in 1921 it was the site of the worst race massacre in U.S. history.

Shays' Rebellion: The Unsung Uprising That Helped Spark a New America

Daniel Shays was the reluctant leader of the Massachusetts insurrection that pit farmers against tax collectors just after the Revolutionary War. Its results led to the writing of the U.S. Constitution.

How Juneteenth Became Black Independence Day

Every year millions of Americans celebrate the emancipation of slavery on June 19. Why then? And why is it considered Black Independence Day?

How the Harlem Renaissance Sparked a New African American Identity

The historic period of the Harlem Renaissance hit its height a century ago, but its influence has continuously impacted American culture through the decades.

Who Really Struck It Rich During the California Gold Rush?

When you think of the California Gold Rush, you probably think a lot of people made millions off that gold, right? Some did, but it wasn't from panning for it.

How the U.S. Capitol's Design Was Chosen By Public Competition

The U.S. Capitol is one of the most architecturally impressive buildings in the world. And how its design was chosen is quite a story.

Why Is New York City Called the 'Big Apple'?

Why not the Big Kumquat or the Big Banana? New York's fruity moniker actually had its beginnings in the sports pages and jazz clubs of the 1920s.

How the Declaration of Independence Birthed the American Nation

Most Americans can at least recite the phrase about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But what else is inside this document? And what was left out?

The Long, Hard Battle for the 19th Amendment and Women's Right to Vote

It's been 100 years since the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. Why did it take so long for women to get the right to vote in the United States?

How the Boston Massacre Fanned the Flames of a Revolution

The Boston Massacre didn't start the American Revolution. But the events that unfolded on March 5, 1770, helped cement the idea that the relationship between England and its colonies was permanently broken.

Why Is Missouri Called the Show-me State?

Lots of U.S. states have nicknames, but Missouri's flinty moniker arguably is one of the best.

Why Was the American Revolution So Revolutionary?

What makes the American Revolution stand out in world history? Was it the introduction of guerrilla warfare or its stage outside the borders of its parent nation? All those were noteworthy, but the real revolution was what the Revolution created.

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